Let $Q(n)$ give the number of ways of writing the integer $n$ as a sum of positive integers without regard to order with the constraint that all integers in a given partition are distinct. Equation $(11)$ on this page mentions (without proof) a recurrence relation for $Q(n)$,

$$Q(n) = s(n) + 2\sum_{k=1}^\sqrt{n}(-1)^{k+1}Q(n-k^2)$$


$$s(n) = \begin{cases} (-1)^j,& \text{if } n= j(3j \pm 1)/2\\ 0, & \text{otherwise} \end{cases}$$

I also came across this identity (again no proof) in Abramowitz and Stegun's book on mathematical formulas (pg. 826). What is the proof of this fact?

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    $\begingroup$ You asked the same question MSE in math.stackexchange.com/questions/3498499/… Perhaps you want to decide for one site, since then there will be no duplicate answers. $\endgroup$
    – efs
    Jan 6, 2020 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ @EFinat-S I apologize. I had originally intended to post on MSE but there was no activity there. I had heard of MO being for research level math but never posted here . Since this question seemed to fit the guidelines, this became my first post on this site. I was unfortunately not aware of the protocol for migrating questions between MSE and MO. $\endgroup$
    – Gerard
    Jan 6, 2020 at 15:12

2 Answers 2


Gauss showed that $$ \prod_{n\geq 1}\frac{1-q^n}{1+q^n} = 1+2\sum_{n\geq 1}(-1)^n q^{n^2}. $$ We also have $\sum_{n\geq 0} Q(n)q^n = (1+q)(1+q^2)\cdots$ and $\sum_{n\geq 0} s(n)q^n = (1-q)(1-q^2)\cdots$ (Euler's pentagonal number formula). The recurrence follows from equating coefficients of $q^n$ on both sides of $$ \prod_{n\geq 1}(1-q^n) = \left(1+2\sum_{n\geq 1}(-1)^n q^{n^2}\right)\prod_{n\geq 1}(1+q^n). $$


Richard Stanley already aswered your question about the proof of the identity. But, if you are looking for references, this two articles prove similar (equivalent?) identities:

Ewell, John A., Recurrences for two restricted partition functions, Fibonacci Quart. 18 (1980), no. 1, 1–2.

Ono, Ken; Robbins, Neville; Wilson, Brad, Some recurrences for arithmetical functions, J. Indian Math. Soc. (N.S.) 62 (1996), no. 1-4, 29–50.


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